Overview of the White House’s attempt to block unobligated FY19 foreign assistance appropriations, with FAQs, legal analyses, government documents, and press reports.
At a Glance
OMB claims that President Trump has the power to freeze appropriations until after they expire. GAO maintains that such action would violate the Constitution’s Separation of Powers and the Impoundment Control Act (ICA) – the very statute Congress enacted to curb similar abuses by President Nixon. At stake is $4.3 billion in unobligated foreign assistance appropriations due to expire September 30.
According to press reports, the Administration intends to send an ICA notice to Congress on August 20 requesting rescission of the targeted funds. This action seeks to take advantage of a perceived loophole in the statute: the notice automatically freezes the funds for 45 days, effectively running out the clock on the FY19 appropriations that expire September 30. In doing so, the White House hopes to achieve the foreign-assistance budget cuts that it previously requested but Congress explicitly rejected.
The frozen funds cover a variety of foreign assistance: international organizations, peacekeeping operations, international narcotics control and law enforcement, development aid, assistance for Europe, Eurasia and Central Asia, economic support funding, foreign military financing programs, and global health programs.
Not all foreign-assistance funds are being treated equally by Defendants. For arbitrary and capricious reasons, they have carved out projects dear to certain high-ranking administration officials, such as Vice President Pence and Ivanka Trump. This shows that White House’s actions are not only illegal, but they are arbitrary and capricious.